With 44 seconds remaining in the second period last night, Daniel Sedin took a long pass off the boards from his brother Henrik Sedin and scored a breakaway goal against Corey Crawford to make the score 3-0 in favor of the Vancouver Canucks.
But honestly the game had been decided much earlier.
The Chicago Blackhawks flew out to Western Canada for their third game in four nights, and from the moment the puck dropped the Canucks went ahead and imposed their will on the NHL’s best team. Taking a cue from the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings, the Vancouver defensemen harassed the fleet-of-foot Blackhawks and forced them to play out of their comfort zone. A steady, aggressive forecheck and solid puck possession put the Hawks on their heels from the outset, and by the time the Canucks took the lead with Jannik Hansen’s tip in power play goal with 5:32 remaining in the first period, it was clear that Vancouver was the more focused team.
After the loss, Hawks fans were forced to deal with a pair of strange circumstances. Chicago had just been handed it’s first regulation loss since March 29th versus the Anaheim Ducks, and for just the third time this season they’d lost by more than one goal.
So is it the end of the world?
The Hawks have the number one seed in the Western Conference already wrapped up, and were playing a third game in four nights on the road 2,400 miles away from home. They were starting a goalie who is used to rest thanks to his incredibly talented backup, Ray Emery, and more importantly who is not used to teams hanging around in his zone and constantly peppering him with shots from all angles. Add in the fact that Vancouver was fresh, playing for a chance to clinch their division, and still have a shot at the second seed and it seems like there’s only one conclusion:
We listen to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville’s advice and “take this game and throw it in the trash.”